WHAT IS THE PERFECT SITUATION?

I originally had a thought to having this feature in the great debut singles series:-

mp3 : Yazoo – Only You

In some ways, it was a fluke that it all came together.

Vince Clarke had unexpectedly left the electronic band Depeche Mode, not terribly happy or comfortable with what life was like as a bona-fide pop star. He continued to write songs, one of which was a ballad called Only You which he felt could be his calling card to Mute Records in terms of being offered some sort of solo contract, possibly as a composer whose work would be performed by guest singers. He happened upon Alison Moyet, via having seen her perform with various bands around the London pub circuit, and persuaded her to record a vocal of Only You for a demo to give to Daniel Miller, the boss of Mute.

Neither the singer or performer had any great wish to make the working relationship a permanent one, but Daniel Miller felt there was real potential and more or less said he wouldn’t release it as a 45 unless there was a band or group to which it could be attributed. Thus was born Yazoo.

Only You turned out to be a bit of a slow burner, creeping into the charts at a lowly #72 on its release in mid-April 1982 , but after six weeks it had reached its peak of #2. It only dropped out of the Top 75 in mid-July and on the very same week the follow-up 45, Don’t Go, entered the Top 30. It took until the end of September 1982 before Don’t Go fell out of the charts, bringing an end to a quite incredible 27-week run of Yazoo have a single in The UK Top 75.

I hadn’t realised until doing the research that Yazoo only released four singles in the lifetime of the group – The Other Side of Love (November 1982) and Nobody’s Diary (May 1983). The fact that both of these singles also hung around the charts for an extended period is probably the reason why I thought there had been many more.

One of other great things about the debut single is it’s b-side. The fact that something so catchy and danceable was more or less thrown away is an indication that neither Vince or Alison perhaps felt Yazoo had much legs. The duo only had two songs when they went into the studio for the first time, but they wanted to hold Don’t Go back as a potential follow-up 45, and so very quickly they composed this:-

mp3 : Yazoo – Situation (7” version)
mp3 : Yazoo – Situation (12” version)

Only You was the same length on both the 7″ and 12″ releases

The best known version of the song, however, emerged when it was released as a stand-alone single in North America when what was called a dub version was created, courtesy of the French-born but NYC-based producer François Kevorkian, who became better-known the following year among the indie kids here in the UK when he turned his attention to This Charming Man.

mp3 : Yazoo – Situation (12” dub version)

It’s this version which really made stars of Yaz, as they were known in the States, getting to the top of the Billboard Hot Dance Play chart and crossing over into the same publication’s Black Singles chart for a number of weeks. Vince and Alison may have made for a very odd couple but there’s no disputing that they knew how to go about filling a dance floor.

JC

TWO SUPERB SONGS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE

Yazoo, the new synth-duo formed by keyboard genius Vince Clarke (ex-Depeche Mode) and the then unknown vocalist Alison Moyet, proved to be an immediate hit with the record-buying public. Debut single, the ballad-like Only You had climbed all the way to #2 in the spring of 1982. Clarke did advise that the debut wouldn’t be atypical of the band and much of the material he was writing was aimed firmly at the dance-floors of the new wave of disco nights that were sprouting up across the country in the wake of the explosion in synth-pop. He hinted that Situation, the uptempo flip side of Only You was more the direction he was keen to take.

The sophomore single proved that he was as good as his word. Don’t Go was an incredible blast of high-energy pop music that relied on the catchiest of riffs and a blistering and pleading vocal which demonstrated Moyet’s blues and soul influences.

mp3 : Yazoo – Don’t Go

At a shade just under three minutes, it has all the hallmarks of a bona fide classic pop record, which is exactly what it is.

The b-side is no less interesting for very different reasons. The interesting thing was that it was credited to Moyet alone, which was proof that this was indeed a band that relied on the talents of both its members. But was she someone who was also aiming at the dance floor?

mp3 : Yazoo – Winter Kills

Not in the slightest. Instead we got a torch song that is incredibly dark and atmospheric, thanks in no small measure to the piano playing.

The two songs highlighted a band that weren’t afraid to be bold, ambitious and different. In an era when image was all so important, this duo got on stage and reminded everyone that talent and ability was a better way to do it.

JC

PS :  Billy Bragg is leading The Smiths in the first of the ICA World Cup quarter-finals.

Voting closes on Friday at 10pm.  A reminder that the songs are Levi Stubbs’ Tears and Still  Ill.